Everyone has a story to share. NEVER in a million years would we think our would include losing a child.
Dustin had a mad crush on me, but never let me know for years. He and I worked at V's Italiano Ristorante an intimate little joint that has been around for 50 years and whose motto is "a nice place to fall in love." Our friends all thought it was just that and lots of "couples" popped up from working there. Everyone thought we would be another PERFECT couple. We even got set up on what I thought was a big party for my birthday but instead was intimate dinner for two (thanks Jules).
It wasn't until a long email was sent to me explaining how he felt God had destined us to be together did I realize the depth of Dustin's attraction. Let's just say, I was not as inclined, so I politely said no to his email. You can imagine my surprise when the timid, shy, brown-eyed boy sent ANOTHER email INSISTING I try just one date. He practically said it would be unbiblical not to. So my fundamentalist guilt crept in and I caved!
We went on our first date and saw the dumbest Johnny Depp movie (yes he makes dumb movies) and to the Cheesecake Factory. Dustin can tell you about 1000 other details down to what I am wearing. All I really remember is him asking me how many kids I wanted and me saying you shouldn't ask that on a first date..although I was thrilled he did. The rest as they say is history.
...well not exactly as simple as that. A couple years went by and he asked me to marry him to which I replied no (I had commitment issues don't judge). He later took me back, although I will never understand why and we I officially said yes to his proposal on December 10, 2005 (Which happens to be Claudette's original due date).
We settled in a simple house in simple neighborhood and were in love! Everything was magical even grocery shopping. Things were perfect! Both of us were VERY anxious to start a family and can't tell you how excited we were when we found out we going to do just that.
August 27,2008 changed our worlds in a way that I never knew possible. Just looking at our little Henry Hudson brought me to tears.
We were good parents and did what we thought was right for our first perfect child. Sleep scheduled, breast feeding, organic baby food. We had this parenting thing figured and couldn't wait to have another. That would happen sooner than planned.
October 28, 2009 my dream of having a little girl was fulfilled in the most amazing little pink package. Amelie Cecile is more full of life than anyone I have met.
She LOVES and LIVES every second to the fullest...which is not always as fun as it may seem. Our little miss slept in the car between errands, was started her on formula at 3 months and to this day she won't eat anything unless it is orange or filled with sugar. Perhaps, we didn't have this parenting thing as nailed as we thought we did?!
Henry and Amelie were our little version of Irish twins and we loved every minute of it (still do). They are best friends and worst enemies and miss each other even if one is gone in the other room. LIFE WAS GRAND! I adored driving around my minivan switching out CD for DVDs and breaking up little toddler disputes.
We moved to a less simple house in a less simple neighborhood to make room for our growing family.
As if life couldn't get better, in May 2011 we were super surprised to find out we were having identical twins. Our dream of 5 kids was happening faster than expected but in perfect order. We would have our little identical girls and then perhaps a baby brother in...oh let's say 2014?!
July 2011 our worlds STOPPED and DEVASTATION HIT! It was the first time we heard those haunting FOUR WORDS,"There is no heartbeat." It was not to be the last.
I thought I would never breathe again! You see my mom (herself a twin) was very ill and I thought somehow having twins would at least keep her alive until they were born. I told the doc, "I can't tell her!" But I did and she was amazing and wise as always. Her health even improved. By this point she had been living with us for several months and was starting to do much better. IN FACT, she was even listed for a KIDNEY TRANSPLANT! I was so excited for her, especially since I am a transplant nurse.
Life started to get back on track. We FINALLY had a positive pregnancy test after almost 9 months of trying. (This trying thing was new for us!) Although we were very excited, we were cautiously optimistic since I had just miscarried the twins.
On Mother's Day 2012, everything turned 90 degrees. My mom was taken via ambulance to the hospital. They told us she needed to be place on a ventilator immediately and were not sure she would get off it. I asked the ER doc if she could talk to her eight children before she was intubated. So my precious mom, weary from the illness with blood gases that were incompatible with life spoke to each child in a way that I never realized before...she loved us all EQUALLY but DIFFERENTLY. We went on to have a week with mom and she died the following Sunday.
On her death bed, I told her I would name this child after her, thinking it was a boy. She immediately laughed and said no one wants a daughter named, Claudette!
A week after I lost my mom almost to the minute, I started hemorrhaging. We went to the ER thinking our baby was gone. Instead we heard, "what an active little GIRL you have in there!" My mom was right, we were having a daughter!
We decided to name her Claudette Elyse...see WHAT'S IN A NAME for details. The months were sad and long and it was hard to go thru a pregnancy without my mom, but I felt forever blessed that we would take baby Claudette home almost 6 months exactly after mom died in the same hospital.
I had 6 days to go. I was HUGE and feeling like I might go sooner. Something felt "different".
It was my last appointment before I was to have my c-section. But Claudette was not to be born in 6 days. She had already died.
THOSE HAUNTING FOUR WORDS AGAIN! "There is no heartbeat."
The next day is documented in her BIRTH STORY.
I was confused. Still am. I don't understand why we would lose both Claudettes. Especially, back to back. It will bewilder me till the day I die.
To say the grieving process has been hard would be the understatement of the year. But we also feel blessed to have HIS GLORY MEET OUR SUFFERING.
Now we embark on a new adventure. We always knew we wanted to adopt even before we had any children, but our journey has taken an unexpected turn. We desperately want to bring home a baby. We are ready down to the diaper liners. We know this journey could take us years and years, but we are willing to go where God leads us.
And we know this is no where near the end of our story, which honestly is scary and exciting all at the same time, but as the quote from one of my favorite Michael Card songs go:
For all those who live in the shadow of death
A glorious light has dawned
For all those who stumble in darkness
Behold your light has come.
Our God is with us.
And if God is with us who can be against us?
**Please consider liking our FB page Help the Elliotts Bring Home a Baby so that we might get the word out there about our adoption!
***a very special thank you to Amanda Eaton of Amanda Eaton Photography who took not only these pictures, but many of the pictures for this blog.